Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano filed a resolution (P.S. Res. No. 934) calling for the Senate to lead by example, by authorizing the conduct of a people’s audit or a joint or parallel audit of its budget accounts by a private and independent auditing firm and the Commission on Audit (COA).
This audit comes with a mandate to examine all of the Senate’s pertinent documents, for the purpose of increasing the level of transparency and accountability in governance, thereby strengthening the integrity of the institution.
The senator did this in light of the recent events that have aroused public interest and generated a lot of reactions and issues on the utilization of public funds thereby casting doubt upon the integrity and credibility of the Senate as an institution.
“A people’s audit or a joint or parallel audit that is open to the public involving a private and independent firm and the COA addresses the growing uncertainty as regards to the credibility and integrity of the Senate as an institution,” he said in his resolution.
He recalled how Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s distribution of P1.6 million to 18 senators and P250,000 to the remaining four including the minority leader under the guise of additional maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) funds has opened the question on whether or not such a disbursement from the Senate President’s discretionary funds is legal.
“Among the issues sought to be answered are: (1) How was the P250,000 released to all the Senators reported or liquidated by the Senate President, and (2) From the P2 billion Senate budget for 2012, how much was liquidated by certification alone,” he said.
The minority leader explained that in line with the current administration’s thrust of transparency, accountability and good governance reform in its “daang matuwid”, the public’s right to know how their taxes are utilized must be upheld.
“The Senate’s response must not be limited to its passage on third reading of SB 3208 or the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill but rather through concrete action,” he said.
Cayetano also reiterated his argument that there is no legal impediment in allowing the joint or parallel audit by the people and/or a private auditing firm with the COA.
He concluded that given that the Senate is among the most credible government institutions, it is not only mandated to deliberate on and pass appropriate laws, conduct investigations in aid of legislation, act as impartial judges in impeachment proceedings of corrupt public officials but also to live by example as beingtrustworthy and accountable to the people, serving them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency.
“The Senate could not now claim to credibly investigate other offices and individuals when it is perceived to be less transparent and accountable within its ranks with regard to how it allocates, disburses and liquidates its MOOE and other funds,” he said.